School Improvement in Maryland

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 1.0 Political Science

Topic A. The Foundations and Function of Government

Indicator 1. Investigate the evolution of the U.S. political system as expressed in the United States Constitution

Objective e. Evaluate the role and responsibility of a legislator in a representative democracy

To help students understand how legislators must balance their own beliefs with the needs and desires of their local constituents with the common good, provide them with a complicated legislative scenario and ask them decide what they would do in the situation:

A bill to make it illegal to smoke cigarettes in all public places in the United States is being considered by the House of Representatives. Representative Smith comes from a legislative district in North Carolina where there are many people who grow tobacco or work in the tobacco industry. These citizens and the tobacco companies oppose the bill because it might decrease the demand for their tobacco and hurt them economically. Rep. Smith has seen a lot of scientific evidence, however, that has convinced him that second-hand smoke is dangerous. Based on this evidence, he thinks that serving the common good might mean voting for the smoking ban. But this conclusion contradicts his general belief that government should not regulate too many areas of people's personal lives. Whenever possible, Rep. Smith believes people should make their own decisions involving personal health.

After presenting this scenario to students, ask them to decide how they would vote if they were Rep. Smith. In a paragraph, have them declare whether they voted Yea or Nay and why. By a show of hands, tally the votes. Ask for volunteers to read their paragraphs aloud to explain their reasoning. After a discussion, ask if anyone would like to change their vote and discuss why.

Resources for Objective 1.A.1.e:
Clarifications | LESSON SEEDS |